Dark Shadows…I’m having a teenage flashback and I’m loving it!

Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t have a good source for keeping up with the latest entertainment. I usually find out about movie “coming attractions” only through the newspaper, and rarely get too excited until I might learn more through friends who recommend.  I am more than happy with Netflix and at that, only occasionally. I had a recent laugh at myself when listening to a radio host speak of his uncertainty in allowing his eight-year-old son to see “The Avengers,” and I was just mystified as to why this child would be interested in Emma Peel and John Steed. I really didn’t understand…I don’t know comic book characters, either.

But I literally giggled on an early drive into work when I looked up about a month ago and saw a billboard promoting the release of Tim Burton’s “Dark Shadows.” Nostalgia came over me just like…just give me one– the dark sweeping cloak of a vampire. How can someone who rarely sees movies get this excited over just a title?

Well, let me tell you. And some of you can play along, because you remember!

ABC debuted the series, Dark Shadows, as afternoon programming on June 27, 1966. The timing, I’ve discovered, was planned to “hook” kids on summer vacation, telling the story of the prominent Collins family and the spooky happenings on their creepy Maine estate. The plot line of the show moved very slowly, but promised the intrigue of seances, apparitions and time travel in which actors also played their characters’ ancestors.

The show only did so-so in the beginning, but then, Look Out! In comes Barnabas Collins (played by actor Jonathan Frid), and the show took off! Teenagers, and I was one of them, rushed home by 4:00 every afternoon to tune in to see what Barnabas was up to. Diane Werts of Newsday described Frid in his role as “an unlikely teen idol–a soulful 40-something vampire, trendsettingly tortured by his bloodsucking urges.” I love that description!

Of course there were also werewolves and witchcraft, in live-to-tape black and white production–early television with its grainy, therefore spooky, quality, and for its time, I suppose, very edgy with eerie music and primitive special effects. There was nothing like it on television at the time; certainly nothing in the afternoon after school!

In our household this held some controversy. Everything this show was about went against what my parents thought proper, but I was 14 and just starting high school in 1966 and I think my parents very wisely looked around at all the potential trouble out there calling my name and decided that if a melodramatic soap opera could get their teen-aged daughter home by 4:00 every afternoon, they’d cut their losses.

I haven’t seen even minutes of an episode since the show went off the air in 1971. The Complete Original Series/Limited Edition DVD collection went on sale today…131 discs sold in a coffin, a “bargain” at $600 for all 1,225 episodes.  It looks like I still won’t be seeing any episodes.

The Tim Burton/Johnny Depp “Dark Shadows” will be in theaters this Friday. From trailers and publicity I’ve followed–and a certain knowledge of the mind of Tim Burton–this will NOT be my childhood story of Barnabas Collins, Josettte DuPres and the lovely Angelique –she was secretly a witch!

Johnny Depp will make a fine character, however, and it’s time for something fresh. Depp claims to have watched the show as a child and has his own obsession with the characters and plot line. He was hoping to pay tribute to actor Jonathan Frid, who does have a cameo role in this production, but sadly passed away April 13th at the age of 87.

In tribute to Frid and in expectation of seeing the movie this weekend, you might want to take a peek at the two film clips below.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the new movie, and if you remember the original show, do share with me. I’m all school-girl over this! You didn’t know I had a dark side, did you?

Muahahaha! Debra

43 thoughts on “Dark Shadows…I’m having a teenage flashback and I’m loving it!

    • So you know what a big deal it was back then, Sharyn. It was particularly special for me because my parents were usually very protective and didn’t let me see movies that were dark or foreboding…somehow, this one slipped through. I’d love to see an old episode sometime! Debra

  1. Debra, get outta my head! First, I, too, thought the Avengers movie was a remake of the BBC series. It was weeks of this hoopla before I realized “that superhero movie” was my Avengers. ((laughing)) As for Dark Shadows, I was 12 when it debuted and didn’t get into it at all. My sister being 11, was a little too young. She eventually “grew into” it, setting off daily arguments over who would get control of the TV at 4:00. I enjoy watching Depp/Burton movies and will definitely watch this one. Whether I do at home or pay $10.00 to do so is the real question. ;)

    • That is so funny to me about you also being confused about the Avengers. Doesn’t it seem strange that they’d use the same title? Even if it is apt for the story! I suppose anyone under 45 wouldn’t have much of a clue about the British series. Too bad! I think the show had to be more appealing to girls…but Johnny Depp did claim it was one of his favorites. He was probably an odd kid! LOL! The supporting cast in this movie looks great, too. I will watch anything with Helen Bonham Carter. She was born to play odd roles also :-) I’ll maybe do a little review of it once I see it…but I’m not much of a reviewer. Thanks for letting me know what you remember of that time period and show, John! Debra

  2. I must be living under a dark cloud. I have never heard of this movie. Maybe it hasn’t come to Australia? I’ll google it. And yes, I’m having a lot of trouble with the new commenting system. I’ve joined Disqus and it doesn’t give me the URL for the blogger who leaves the comment and when I comment on a blog (that uses Disqus), my URL doesn’t come up. I’ve emailed their Help Desk – let’s see how long it takes for a response! xx

    • We will still stay in touch, Charlie, no matter how it plays out :-) New systems and new things to figure out. Must be good for our neural circuitry! Ha! I’m sure Dark Shadows is coming to Australia…by then I can give you my review! LOL! Anything with Johnny Depp must have a broad appeal…I don’t usually give movie reviews! I don’t know how to critique. I usually “like” or “don’t like” but this one has me chuckling. I think the young people of today have no idea that long before the Twilight Series or True BLood or ANY of the vampire stories, there was this television show which was just as appealing to teens as the more modern versions. So this is at least fun! oxo Debra

  3. Oh my … with both The Avengers and Dark Shadows, it will be a cha-ching weekend at the theater. I will wait on the reviews – and if my wife wants to attend – ;) …. meanwhile, enjoy the movie!

    • Thanks, Frank. I’ll have to see if I’m disappointed or glad I saw it. Yes, ask your wife if she remembers this show? It ran for quite a long time and I was surprised that Johnny Depp watched it. He’s a lot younger than I am…he must have missed the early black and whites! Ha! Debra

      • Debra,
        I know my wife watched it … but I’m just not sure if she wants to see the movie. But with her sister coming to town this weekend, I won’t be surprised if it is suggested.

  4. I do remember Dark Shadows and was curious about the movie when I first saw the trailer on television. The summer of ’66, my friends told me about the television show, and I started watching it. Unfortunately, once school started up, that was the end of it. I was a junior, on the school newspaper, and rarely got home before 5, even 6 o’clock. A few years later, in college, there was always a group who scheduled their classes so that they rushed back to the dorm and the one television set in the lounge, to watch Dark Shadows. They were quite devoted.

    I’ll be interested in seeing the movie, most likely at home – though I do have a friend who might want to catch it . . . he he he Fun post, Debra. Thanks.

    • Should be quite a fun experience for me. Jay said he’s willing to go, so I hope we can fit it in! It was such a big deal to me…of course, I was 14! Ha! I’m sure the allure was that I felt so grown up. I would have loved to have scheduled a time to go with some of my highschool friends I still see often. That probably isn’t going to happen, but I know we’d feel like silly girls…and that can be fun, too, once in a while! I enjoyed watching some youtube last night and hadn’t heard the opening credits in decades…that was fun, too! Ah, memories of silly things, right, Penny? Hope you are doing well today…I seem to sense you are getting your bounce back :-) Debra

    • I am sure to at least get a chuckle out of it, Nancy. I love the supporting cast and even their involvement in it. I’m not a big Tim Burton fan, but I find Johnny Depp memorable in most roles. It will be a good little escape, I think :-) Netflix is my go-to for almost all movies, so this might be a big deal…getting out :-) Debra

  5. I had no idea this was a series. I’m going to ask my mom about it tomorrow. Perhaps she or my dad remember it. I’ve been wanting to see the new movie though. It looks like one I would enjoy. :) Have a great day Debra!

    • It’s kind of a curiosity to me, Kristy, so I will see it in the theaters, I’m sure. I also like the supporting cast, so I’m sure it would be quie humorous. Perhaps one reason the series is so memorable to me is that it really was a big deal that I was allowed to watch it. My parents were very conservative about such things, and it ws “dark” for that time period. So I felt very grown up, I think :-) Do ask your mom. I’d be curious, too :-) You also have a great day! Debra

  6. Oh yeah, I definitely remember the old Dark Shadows! I was pretty young and my mother wouldn’t allow me to watch the show, so I’d go to my friend’s house across the street and watch it. :D I have to say that gorgeous Johnny Depp makes vampires look GOOD! ;) Tim Burton is great with the dark side – between the two of them, it should be a fun movie! I’m definitely going to see it.

    • If I can possibly see it this weekend I think we will! I’m so glad you remember it and I think it’s so funny that you would “sneak” it at your friend’s house. In a way it really was a soap opera, and I guess I got hooked! I asked my mom the other day if she remembered it, or remembered how much she didn’t really like it that I was so enamored, but she said she didn’t. I do…she wasn’t happy with it at all. And I am sure that made it all the more appealing at that stage in my life. If we both see it we’ll have to compare notes…or we could buy the DVDs and share. LOL! Can you imagine? $600? We also share great “appreciation” for Johnny Depp! Tee-hee! Debra

  7. Debra, I had never heard of Dark Shadows! You have solved my problem: I was looking at the billboards which have appeared here and wondering what in heavens’ name it was all about! Now I shall potter off to YouTube to watch reruns. Thank you. I have a new project :-)

    • Isn’t that funny, Kate! I think you’d find the old show very funny now…campy! But you’d appreciate how novel it was for its time and in that respect be a little facinated I think. Of course it’s been 40 plus years since I’ve seen an episode, and maybe I wouldn’t even find it remotely intriguing today. I barely remember plot lines, but I DO remember how it made me feel and I was so hooked! I love the cast of the new “rendition”–and every time I see a trailer with cast members Helena Bonham Carter and Michelle Pfeiffer I have to laugh! They must have had so much fun playing these roles and creating a more than likely brilliant parody of the original. If you do see it at some point, I’d love your take on it! Debra

    • I don’t know if you like Tim Burton’s other pieces, Jen, but this should be an funny parody! The supporting cast is strong, and since the vampire is awakened in 1972–a lot of potentially very funny situations. After all my own hype, I hope I’m not disappointed! :-) Debra

    • I certainly don’t need to promote the movie, Elizabeth, but I’m also not one for anything dark or scary these days. This Tim Burton film is a parody of the old show…a comedy in which the vampire is awakened in 1972. It looks very funny to me…and I could use a good laugh! :-) I do think skipping down memory lane is good for me! :-) Debra

      • Oh, it’s good for all of us. I find joy and healing there… You know, when stuff gets tough, we go back and remember when… :-)

  8. Oh, I am definitely full of dark sides… I haven’t seen either of the Dark Shadows, but will surely get to the cinemas to watch the latest version. Tim Burton is one of my favourite directors and Johnny Depp one of my favourite actors, so nothing can go wrong here, can it? Fun to read about your rebellious side in your teens!

    • I’m with you, Otto, fully appreciating Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. I find them mesmerizing. This latest film is set in 1972 and should have some funny cultural contexts to work with. I was one of those quietly rebellious teens…a little sneaky! Ha! Debra

    • Secret dark sides are kind of fun, aren’t they Otto? And I was a sneaky teen…none of my rebellions were very big, but I’m sure my parents had their concerns with trust. LOL! I love Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, and I am not at all surprised that you are drawn to them both. They are such visual artists, and to me, somehow they manage nuance just brilliantly! They are almost over-the-top–especially Burton, and at the same time if you don’t pay attention you’ll miss it all–brilliant! I’m sure this is going to be a fun film…the vampire “wakes” in 1972. That alone should be fun :-) Debra

    • I may end up only being able to watch it in DVD myself, but I’d love to see it on the big screen! I’ll have to see. I’m so glad you remember it, too, Marie. I would love to watch a few episodes of the original, just to see what comes back to me! Maybe I can…youtube seems to have a lot! Thank you for letting me know of your recollection, too! Debra

  9. In truth I’d never heard of Dark Shadows before I spotted this new film! I’m a big fan of Mr. Depp, and the trailer looks great! … Maybe I should give it a shot? :)

    • I think you’d find the new film a reason to laugh, and after all the work you’ve been doing, Eve, you could use some escape, for sure :-) I love Johnny Depp, too, and this looks to be quite humorous…a parody of the original! :-) Debra

    • You must have been really young, Andra, but I think anyone who is easily drawn to “story” would find it really memorable. I have had some memories come back to me that I’d forgotten. A friend and I followed one of the female actors around Disneyland “spying” (now they’d call it stalking) as she was on a date, presumably. I remember that they figured it out and ditched us along the way, but I lived on that story for a while. I wouldn’t go back to being that age if I could! I think the new release just looks great. Be sure to let me know if you see it. :-) Debra

  10. Dear Debra, . . . I never saw “Dark Shadows” or television, nor “The Avengers.” (There’s something sadly lacking in my cultural background!!!!) But I really enjoyed the two videos. The Johnny Depp one I couldn’t get to play and so I went to YouTube and watched it. He, Tom Hanks, and Matt Damon are my favorite actors and so I hope to see the movie. Thanks for the thumbs up!

    Peace.

    • I’m chuckling a little at your response, Dee! I think about the time this show was so well known you were rather deeply involved in anti-war protesting and very deeply involved in the REAL cultural divides of the time. You activism trumps television! No need to feel at all at a loss because you weren’t in tune with this nonsense, that’s for sure! But the new release should provide some laughs…and since the timeframe is 1972, we’ll get a chance to revisit the cultural norms of the time! That should be both fun and funny, don’t you think? :-) Debra

  11. i’m not even sure whether Dark Shadows was shown in the UK, Debra, but if it was I missed it because I was at college in 1966. I probably wouldn’t have watched it in any case, as I’m a real scaredy-cat when it comes to anything resembling a horror film. :-)

    • Ha! I really understand, Perpetua. It wasn’t true of me then, but it is now! I’m a real light-weight! If the new movie were anything other than a parody that looks quite funny, I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to watch it. In fact, I’m thinking of writing a sort of follow-up post on books I never should have read…I gravitated to the “edgy” when I was young, and put things in my head that didn’t need to stay there more than fifty years later! Hmmmm. Debra

  12. I didn’t watch the series in the 1960′s – mainly because I wasn’t living in the States so I’ve never heard of it. Until today. Driving home I stopped at a red light in front of a billboard advertising the movie so of course I read it and had no idea that it was about vampires and creepy goings on … Thanks for explaining it to me.

    • Your lack of knowledge about the background of Dark Shadows makes me wonder really how many people know of it. I’ve spoken with many people who either had forgotten all about it or never knew of it in the first place! Unless you have the background on it, I also wonder if the parody will fall flat! I couldn’t get to it this weekend, but I’m still hoping I might. :-) Debra

  13. Nope – I had NO IDEA, not even a GLIMMER you watched this in High School, and if my parents had known they would never have taken us to the Ice Capades to see Clark Gable!

    • Oh you! You have me laughing now! I should blog about our day with Clark, shouldn’t I? You had to know I watched Dark Shadows…I’m not that good at keeping things to myself. LOL! And look at you…I got you to respond on my blog. Isn’t that fun? It is for me…come back again sometime! D

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